Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Quick Note About the End of Combat in Iraq

I am going to take a moment and make a few comments about the end of our combat operations in Iraq. First, in the interests of complete disclosure, let me point out my original position on the war. I opposed it. I knew when George Bush was first elected President that he was going to get us involved in a war in Iraq and I said so. I never believed the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” crap that was being put out (even when Collin Powell presented it) and, again, I said so. My friends along with most everyone got caught up in the flag waiving anti-Saddam attitude that swept the country as kind of a way of striking out after the 9/11 tragedy (something many people now seem to forget). I had more than one conversation that resulted in hard feelings as a consequence. I was, and still am, an advocate for going after Al-Qeada and doing it in Afghanistan and Pakistan (I would not have had the same respect for the border our government has had). I did not like Saddam and felt sorry for the Iraqi people but in my opinion that was their mess, not ours. Our big mistake, in my opinion, was our failure to take out Saddam during the first gulf war, when together with the coalition forces we pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

Once we became committed to the operation, I criticized heavily the way it was being executed -not the military but the logistics and support operation. I was one of the early voices calling for Secretary Rumsfeld to be replaced and I hated the way our politicians kept tying the hands of our troops. I am a big believer that if you are going to ask people to go into combat you should let them fight it properly with every weapon available. We sent troops over there without proper equipment and without clear objectives (it took over a year to get proper armor on the HUMVEES and the army just admitted a few months ago that the troops body armor is still substandard for the regular infantry). They did not even have a good “post combat” operations plan. In my opinion, a lot of what happened in Iraq following the collapse of Saddam’s administration was a direct result in our mismanagement and lack of planning! No one thought about what to do with a country that had been under totalitarian control for 30 years and suddenly found itself with no functioning government or infrastructure - plus, who was the genius that allowed the Iraqi army to dissolve and disappear with most of their weapons?

The only constant was my support for our troops and my concern that they receive the support and the recognition they deserve (both in theater and at home). Now that “Combat Operations” in Iraq have come to a close I would feel hypocritical celebrating as though I was a big supporter all along (as several well known people are doing now). Besides, I do not have the same faith that our President has in believing that this is won. We are responsible for a country still there without an effective government surrounded by enemies like Iran and Syria who are dying for us to get out so they can go meddle. The country is still full of very angry secular dissent and it still controls vast amounts of oil –and that means conflict over money, bet on it! 

President Obama, in his zeal to get the U.S. out of there is leaving one hell of a lot of loose ends –and most people seem happy to climb on the wagon with him and put this behind us. I just don’t believe Iraq is ready to let us go yet.

While I am on the subject of President Obama, I cannot let this pass without pointing out his stark and really blatant hypocrisy. He is now taking bows for ending the war when in reality he worked hard against it. He opposed the surge that finally ended the worst of the violence. As a Senator he made several speeches opposing not only the surge but all operations in Iraq. By-the-way, that surge was opposed by a lot of people. It was a hard and very gutsy move by President Bush. President Obama should have acknowledged and given Bush credit for that but Obama's ego and his arrogance simply would not let him. That is too bad, it would have enhanced his stature in many eyes.

Let's not forget Vice President Biden. Let me remind you that as a Senator he was running around calling for Iraq to be divided into 3 distinct countries, saying that it would never be able to function as a single country without a civil war. Now he is over there patting himself and the Democrats on the back for a job well done – it makes me want to puke.

The only really good thing I have heard in all of this has been a universal call to say “Thank You” to our men and women in uniform who have worked so hard, risked and sacrificed so much for our country. They are heroes and, remembering how they were treated following Vietnam, I thank God they are being recognized better today. One more thing: don’t forget the civilians of our or State Department and other government agencies who have gone over and done such incredible work in Iraq. They have sacrificed too and are often recognized even less – they deserve our thanks as well.

Now, the best way to say “Thank You” is to try and keep all this from happening again. The best way I can think of to do that is to be a whole lot more careful about who we elect to be President after this -- but maybe that is asking way too much…..

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